I want to believe that since everyone around me is constantly on their phone, that it can't be that bad for you...right? If it was bad for you, wouldn't everyone talk about the negative effects of excessive screen time and use their devices less? Maybe in a world where we weren't all so addicted to the dopamine rush of text message notifications and likes and comments etc. etc. and we went back to the OG cell phones that basically had two features - calling and text messaging - it would be easy to limit our exposure.
The fact is, excessive screen time is a modern-day epidemic that is effecting everyone but mostly children and teenagers. From the tiniest tots to the tech-savvy adults, we're all in the grip of the screen saga, and now there are a number of scientific studies that are showing how detrimental this new way of living can be. So, let's dive into the research and find out how those screens are making life... well, interesting.
1. Posture Problems and Pain:
You might think you're a ninja multitasker, but your back might disagree. According to a 2018 gem from the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, excessive screen time can have you slouching like a sloth at a spa. Welcome, back pain! It turns out screens are the Jedi masters of bad posture.
2. Eye Strain Spectacular:
Ever noticed your eyesight becoming a blurry mess? Cue the blue light from screens. In 2020, Scientific Reports reminded us that blue light can lead to eye strain, sleep disruptions, and a fancy condition called Digital Eye Strain Syndrome.
3. Mental Mayhem:
Ah, the mind – a delicate instrument that screens love to tinker with. A 2019 study in JAMA Pediatrics hit us with the news that excessive screen time might be a detrimental for kids' psychological well-being. And guess what? Adults aren't immune. A 2020 study in JAMA Network Open unveiled that too much screen use can cozy up to symptoms of depression. Screens: not-so-secret agents of mental health sabotage.
4. Sleep's Vanishing Act:
Sleep, that elusive treasure! Screens steal it away like digital bandits. A 2019 study in JAMA Pediatrics revealed that screen time before bedtime shrinks kids' precious sleep hours. Adults, you're not off the hook either; a 2017 study in Sleep Health declared that bedtime screen time equals bad sleep quality.
5. Social Skills Slide:
Remember those things called conversations? High screen time can turn us into social recluses. A 2018 study in JAMA Pediatrics made it clear that too much screen exposure in preschoolers is a no-no for social skills. And grown-ups, screens can be the clingy friend at the party, keeping us from real-world conversations.
6. Nature's Forgotten Pleasures:
Lastly, Mother Nature is calling, but screens are on hold. A 2019 study in JAMA Pediatrics painted a bleak picture of high screen time in kids – less physical activity and a ticket to obesity city. Adults, you're not immune to this one either. It's time to log off and rediscover the wonders of the great outdoors.
How to Dodge the Screen Time Trap:
Now that you're fully versed in the screen time saga, it's time to beat the addiction. Here's your escape plan:
Set Screen Time Limits: Use apps or device settings to limit your daily screen time.
Create Screen-Free Zones: Bedrooms are for sleep, not scrolling. Keep screens out of the bedroom.
Prioritize Real Connections: Instead of virtual chats, meet friends and family in person.
Explore the Outdoors: Make time for outdoor activities and leave your phone at home if possible. Nature is calling!
Use Screen Time Wisely: Make screens a tool, not a crutch. Use them for work, learning, and genuine leisure.
In conclusion, screens are here to stay, but it's time to take control. Let's remember that moderation is the key to a healthier, more balanced digital life. Your body and mind will thank you, and who knows, you might even regain that perfect posture from yesteryears!
Until next time,
Dr. Alexes Hazen